Lithuania Investigating $120 Mln Bankera ICO for Securities Law Compliance
Lithuania’s central bank is investigating a domestic initial coin offering (ICO) from a blockchain startup called Bankera, which claims to have raised over 100 mln Euro ($123 mln).
Lietuvos Bankas, as the Baltic nation’s central bank is called, released a public statement on February 15 announcing that it considers the Bankera ICO as a securities offering under Lithuanian law. According to Bankera’s website, the blockhain-based ‘digital bank’ has already raised 108 mln Euro ($133 mln) through its ICO, which was launched on November 27, 2017 and is set to end on February 28.
In the February 15 statement, Lietuvos Bankas said that Bankera’s ICO “falls within the scope of the Law on Securities, i.e. is considered a public offer, and therefore must be executed in accordance with the established requirements.”
Specifically, the central bank focused its investigation against Bankera on possible violations of “requirements of dissemination and promotion of instruments possessing the features of securities,” noting that Lithuania’s Law on Advertising “prohibits the advertising of activities that violate the requirements of legal acts."
Lietuvos Bankas warned that it may take further action as a result of the findings of the investigation, but did not specify what actions it may take against Bankera. Lietuvos Bankas’ statement concluded with a warning to other blockchain startups planning token offerings.
Lithuania’s move to go after the Bankera ICO under existing national laws for securities offerings echoes efforts by an increasing number of governments seeking to the same. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made clear that it wishes to treat ICOs as securities while financial authorities in Switzerland and Gibraltar have already published guidelines on when ICOs should be treated under existing securities laws.